We ask the same 10 questions to very different members of Charleston’s diverse community. This week we met with West Of Publisher/ Editor Lorne Chambers.
1. If you’re not from Charleston originally, where are you from and when did you relocate here?
I was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. but moved to South Carolina when I was 10. So I became pretty southernized pretty quick. But I still bleed black and gold. I was raised in the small town of Greenwood, S.C. until I came to the College of Charleston in 1995. After that I had a brief stint on the Gulf Coast of Florida before relocating back to Charleston and have been here ever since.
Did you go to college, and if so, where?
Yes. I attended the College of Knowledge (aka College of Charleston — Class of ’98)
Occupation, employer, and what your role entails?
Newspaper publisher. I started West Of, a weekly community newspaper for the West Ashley region in 2005. I wear a lot of hats, but mostly handle the editorial side of the business. My wife Lindsey handles the sales side of things. In 2015 she and I purchased the Folly Current, a monthly newspaper for Folly Beach.
How does your company and/or your role affect the community?
I like to think we have a big impact on the communities we cover. The two papers I own cover their respective parts of town exclusively. So we do our best to inform the community of what’s going on from a governmental level to who is playing Saturday night at the bar down the street. Because we are hyper-focused on these communities, I think we have a great responsibility to them.
5.Favorite part of your job?
Putting the puzzle together. I look at every issue like a puzzle — I have this space for news, this space for sports, dining, arts, etc. Of course, it all starts with the ads, and then you have to piece it all together from there. I like the challenge of it together every week.
What area of Charleston do you live in and why do you love it?
I like to think I have dual citizenship. Since I am so ingrained in both West Ashley and Folly Beach, I have to be a citizen of both if I’m to cover either properly. I lived on Folly Beach for eight years until this June when Lindsey and I bought our first house together in West Ashley. It is an exciting time for West Ashley with all the revitalization and growth. So it’s great to be right in the thick of it. But we still are rooted in the Folly community and keep an office there. Folly is a special place, so that is still where I “hang out” the most because I love the bars, restaurants, and people.
Who’s your most-loved local venue/cultural excursion and why?
I’m a beer snob, so I’m super excited about Charleston’s booming brewing industry. I also love that as the laws change, these breweries are becoming gathering places. There are four new breweries slated for West Ashley in 2017, so I look forward to hanging closer to the house when they open. But Folly Beach is my spot. The owners of all the bars and restaurants are not only our clients, but our close friends. So we love just bouncing around Center Street and down the side roads and grabbing a bite, hearing some music, or just having a drink.
Also, before I started West Of, I was the music editor at Charleston City Paper, so I love live music and try to see it whenever I can. I’m really excited about what the Charleston Music Hall has been doing lately with their booking and Alex who owns the Pour House is an old friend of mine, so I like to catch as many live shows there as I can as well.
What’s your go-to local dining or takeout spot, and what do you like to order?
This is a tough question. Charleston is overflowing with amazing places to eat. But whether I’m in town or visiting somewhere else, I always try and seek out small, hole-in-the-wall spots where you’d never expect creative food offerings but will find them. On Folly, Jack of Cups, Chico Feo, and ’Wich Doctor are three prime examples. In West Ashley, Voodoo Tiki Bar is a good example. I’m also a sucker for South Carolina BBQ. I went to Texas recently and ate so much brisket that I literally can’t touch the stuff right now. Maybe I’ll come around to it again, but for now, give me a good pulled pork sandwich with mustard sauce. We have some real good ones in West Ashley too — I could eat Home Team BBQ every day (and almost do), but also love what Anthony is doing over at Swig & Swine, and it’s still hard to beat a classic Bessinger’s BBQ sandwich.
But if we really want to treat ourselves, we don’t mess with all the fancy downtown spots, we head to Mondo’s Italian. It’s a tiny, unassuming spot in a strip mall next to Sonic on James Island. But it has the best Italian food in town, in my opinion. The owner is a great guy and the service is always good. We go there often, but it’s always a treat.
Favorite Charleston day-trip destination?
I’m always amazed by the diversity and beauty we have right here in our backyard. Spending the day at Middleton Place is always a nice getaway. Just walking around the gardens and along the river is a special experience. We often try to parlay our Middleton days with a special dinner or beer tasting they’re hosting or a stay at the Middleton Inn. Besides Middleton, a short trip down the road to Botany Bay in Edisto is a perfect day trip. Its natural beauty is stunning.
10. If you could live anywhere in the world other than the Lowcountry, where would that be?
My wife and I have a secret spot along the Pacific side of Costa Rica. It’s not where all the American surfers go; it’s 45 minutes up a dirt road from the beach to a completely secluded spot in the mountains called Rancho Tranquilo. There are three tiny “ranchos” or palm-thatched huts up on stilts in the middle of the rainforest with literally nothing around but monkeys, toucans, and sloths. Most peaceful place I’ve ever been. We’ve been a couple times, so I suppose if I had to live anywhere other than here, that would be it. There or Chiang Mai, Thailand. A magical little city in the mountains of northern Thailand. Food is amazing, people are friendly, and there’s a just a chill vibe everywhere you go. Kind of like Folly Beach if it were in the mountains of Northern Thailand.